December 1, 2021

Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown: Then There Were Two

December 3, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Nothing in this issue but the two semi-final series of the “Sweet Sixteen” (APBA simulation) tournament that has been playing out here in Notes for the last several months, starting with #459. If this was an actual tournament, it would take about a month to complete — kinda like the MLB post-season with its layers of playoffs that precede the World Serious.

This tournament would require nine days per round, since I schedule seven-games series, with days off after games 2 and 5. Anyway, as the number of teams still “alive” shrinks from 16, then to eight, then to the final four — the four we’ll see in this issue — I suspect that readers go in one of two directions. If they were rooting for just one team (theirs), they might drop out as soon as their team is eliminated. I’m hoping that more readers instead get more interested, and start to look forward to seeing which teams make it to the final series, and which emerges from this amazing collection of (cardboard) talent.

This is, of course, only a simulation, where luck plays a big role. But it’s not purely luck. I think the most fun comes by imagining all these players walking out of a cornfield to play ball with each other, mixing generations, and also mixing in the best Negro Leaguers, who only got to play with the MLB guys in the off-season. If you are a fan of “Field of Dreams,” you could easily whip up a card for Moonlight Graham and see how Archie would do against — well, against the best players the game has ever seen. I resisted the temptation to insert Roy Hobbs, Joe Hardy, Mark Harris’ southpaw Henry Wiggen, and other fictional heroes (those Negro League cards are fiction enough). But I know some people will go so far as to make up a card for themselves, and add it to their rosters. That could be fun — it’s hard to imagine how I’d feel, if I got a hit (a home run?!) off Christy Mathewson or Cy Young. Or if I whiffed in the clutch. No, I think I prefer to stay outside the lines, even the imaginary lines drawn on my card table.

Enough intro, roll the dice again, Sam, and let’s see who will represent their league in the final series. Here is another doubleheader treat, Indians-Tigers and Cubs-Phils. Next week, the final series.



This is the eleventh in a series of reports on a simulated playoff of the sixteen “original franchise” teams. The results of the first-round in NOTES 459-464; the second round, in #465-468. See NOTES #459 for the background and “ground rules.”

To recap briefly, the Indians got the AL final series by defeating the all-time Red Sox in seven games, then taking the A’s (who had edged the Orioles in Round One) in five. The Tigers defeated the White Sox in five, then the Senators in six; the Senators had upset the all-time Yankees in Round One, in six.


Stan Coveleski had four quality starts resulting in a 4-0 record in the first two rounds, and drew the start in Game One in the showdown with the Tigers for the right to represent the AL in the all-time final series. Denny McLain, three quality starts but just a 1-1 record, would take the hill for Detroit. The Indian starters had all eight of their victories to date; for the Tigers, the bullpen had picked up three of their eight wins.

The Indians took the early lead, Nap Lajoie’s first-inning single and Tris Speaker’s double making it 1-0. Alan Trammell’s two-run HR in the bottom of the second made it 2-1 Tigers. Al Rosen’s solo shot off McLain in the 4th tied it at 2. And for a while, it looked like Rosen’s day. He made a harmless error in the bottom of the 4th, but figured in two tough putouts in the Tiger 5th. Lou Santop started the inning with a double, but was out trying to steal third a few pitches later. So he did not score when George Kell singled. Ty Cobb followed with a single and Larry Doby fired a strike to Rosen to nail Kell at 3B. So it was 2-2 into the 6th.

Bottom of the 6th, Charlie Gehringer tags Coveleski’s first pitch for a HR. An out later, Norm Cash takes him deep and KOs him from the game, 4-2 Tigers. Rosen leads off the Indian 7th and is hit with a pitch — forcing him out of the game. Julio Franco pinch-runs, Julio in his prime, and he swipes second as Sandy Alomar fans. Lou Boudreau’s double makes it 4-3, but McLain retires Joe Jackson and Lajoie to end the threat. And McLain gets the first two outs in the 8th inning, too, before Hal Trosky’s single. The Indians eighth hit, so enter John Hiller. Doby greets Hiller with a long HR to center, and the Indians go up, 5-4.

Bryan Harvey retired six Tigers in a row after the Cash HR, but when Gehringer beats out an infield hit with one down in the eighth, Jose Mesa takes over. Hank Greenberg fouls out and Mesa fans Cash. The Indians tack on a big insurance run in their ninth. With two out, Joe Jackson singles and steals, and Lajoie singles him in. Mesa gives up a hit to Sam Crawford in the Tiger ninth, but pinch-hitter Rudy York grounds into a game-ending DP, so the Indians take Game One, 6-4.


Jim Bagby (3-0) versus Frank Tanana (2-0) in Game Two. It is 1-1 in the bottom of the third when Cobb doubles, then streaks home on Gehringer’s hit. Greenberg’s HR to deep left puts the Tigers up 4-1. Tanana sails into the sixth inning with that lead, then hits a snag. Speaker doubles and after Albert Belle flies out, Trosky is hit by a pitch. Doby follows with a two-run triple, and Rosen’s sac fly evens the score at 4-4. Then the Indians go up in their 7th, back-to-back doubles by Lajoie and Speaker. Al Kaline’s triple and Trammell’s single knots the score at 5-5.
Hank Aguirre took over for the Tigers, and Hal Trosky opens the 8th with a bleeding infield hit. Kenny Lofton pinch-runs, and goes to third when Doby works the hit-and-run perfectly. Another sac fly by Rosen puts the Indians back on top. And again, in their 9th, then get a big insurance run (off George Mullin), when Speaker walks and Lofton laces a double to right. Narleski, Harvey and Bob Lemon combine for over five innings of one-run relief, Cleveland triumphs 7-5, and go up 2-0 in games.


If the elimination of the Pirates was not proof enough of my lack of influence on the results in this tournament, then surely the performances of Addie Joss, one of my favorite pitchers of all time, is. Addie had just one quality start in the first two rounds, and was 0-2. Maybe League Park will give him a boost, it is where he tossed his perfecto in 1980 against Big Ed Walsh. Today he faced Hal Newhouser, 1-2 so far, and also overdue.

Joss retires the first seven Tigers, but Santop singles, Kell walks and Cobb puts the visitors up, 1-0. Gehringer gets a second run home, grounding out on the hit-and-run. Newhouser cannot hold the lead. In the Indian third, Jackson and Lajoie single, setting the table for Albert Belle’s blast, 3-2 Tribe. But the Tigers come right back. Kaline singles and steals, Harry Heilmann walks. Trammell singles in a run, and Santop sacrifices the two runners into scoring position. Kell’s fly to left is too short to score the slow-running Heilmann, but Ty Cobb pokes a hit into left and it’s 5-3 Detroit. Doubles by Belle and Trosky in the Cleveland fifth make it 5-4, and chase Prince Hal. Enter Bill Donovan, and with help from Hank Aguirre, the Indians score no more today.

And the Tigers pounce on four different Indian relievers, scoring in each of the last four innings for an 11-4 rout. Cobb had two triples and four RBI on the day, Greenberg homered, Al Kaline tripled. Lajoie & Trosky three hits apiece for the Tribe.


McLain on the hill for the Tigers again, after a good outing in Game One; the Indians counter with Bob Feller, who has turned in a couple quality starts in the first rounds.

Both teams score in their first ups, Detroit on a Gehringer double and Norm Cash’s single; Cleveland on Lajoie’s triple and Speaker’s RBI hit. Then both pitchers settle down, and it is still 1-1 going into the fifth. The visitors break the tie when Kell singles, moves up on Cobb’s ground out and scores on Gehringer’s single. But Carlos Delgado’s 2-run HR in the Tribe half of the fifth puts the Indians up 3-2.

Feller’s first walk comes in the top of the sixth, drawn by Hank Greenberg. Al Kaline follows with a double, Greenberg to third. Feller retires Sam Crawford on a comebacker, but SS Alan Trammell connects, and the 3-run HR put the Tigers on top 5-3. That’s all that the visitors would get, Lemon and Harvey shutting down the Tigers the last three innings.

But McLain was just as tough. Belle doubled with one out in the sixth, but was stranded there; same with Speaker in the 8th. But in the bottom of the ninth, the Indians stage a last-ditch rally. With one out Ernest Wilson singles and Delgado doubles him in. Enter John Hiller for the Tigers. Boudreau draws a walk, Franco pinch-runs. Joe Jackson’s hard hit to right is snagged by Gehringer and Jackson is out at first, as the runners move up. So it comes down to Nap Lajoie vs Hiller, and the reliever wins the duel, getting Lajoie to bounce to Trammell, 6-3. McLain gets the win, 5-4, and the series is all even at two games apiece.


Frank Tanana pitched well in Game Two, and he gets the nod again; he will face Stan Coveleski, the Indians’ tourney ace. Back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the first by Lajoie and Speaker put the home team on top 1-0. Coveleski gives up one hit in the first four innings.

In the home fourth, the Indians explode. Larry Doby starts it off with a homer to right-center. Rosen singles, and after Delgado flies out, Boudreau executes the hit and run perfectly to put runners at the corners. Shoeless Joe Jackson then rocks Tanana with a HR inside the RF foul pole, to make it 5-0.

Bill Freehan’s fifth-inning homer, following Trammell’s double, makes it 5-2. The Tribe gets one back when Wild Bill Donovan walks Belle, Trosky and Doby, but only one, on Rosen’s sac fly. In the home sixth, it’s Jackson again, with a leadoff double. Lajoie grounds out, but Speaker and Belle single, to knock out Donovan. Doby’s two-out triple makes it 9-2. So singles runs in the 8th and ninth by Detroit — one coming on Bill Freehan’s second HR — are not enough. 9-4, Jackson with four of Cleveland’s 13 hits, and the Tribe needs just one more win to move on into the final series.


Jim Bagby, still undefeated, will try to nail it down for the Indians. Fat Mickey Lolich will try to keep it alive for the Tigers. As usual, I imagine a standing-room only crowd on hand.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, yesterday’s hero, tags Lolich’s first pitch for a triple. But Lajoie’s pop over short is caught on the run by Trammell, who wheels and nips Jackson at home, a killing DP, that hurts even more when Speaker follows with a double and is stranded. So it is the Tigers who score first. Cobb matches Jackson’s leadoff triple, but Gehringer’s hit to short is snagged by Boudreau — the infield was playing in — and Cobb is out at the plate. But Norm Cash homers to right, 2-0 Tigers.

In the third, the Indians battle back. Jackson singles, and Nap Lajoie — of all people — finds the seats with a long fly to tie the game. Tris Speaker triples and comes in on Belle’s long fly, and it’s 3-2.

And that lead is looking good, as Bagby finds his groove and gives up just three scattered hits after the Cash HR, so it is still 3-2 into the last of the 7th. Alan Trammell starts the inning with a HR to left, and it’s 3-3. When Bill Freehan follows with a double, Jose Mesa takes over from Bagby. Kell bunts the Tiger catcher to third, and Ty Cobb comes thru with a solid hit up the middle. Cobb then steals — it’s what he does — and Gehringer walks. Cash works the count to 3-2, then connects, again, and suddenly it is 7-3 Tigers.

In the Tribe 8th, Belle singles, then Trosky grounds into a double-play, which is double-costly: two outs, but Albert Belle is injured sliding into second, and he’ll not be able to play again any time soon. Al Rosen’s solo HR off Hank Aguirre is all the Indians can muster, Hiller closes out the win which goes to Lolich, 7-4, and there will be a Game Seven.


The Indians have won two of the three games in Detroit, and the visitors are 4-2 in the series, so it is hard to say if the Tigers have an edge in the series finale. Addie Joss will start for the Indians, and he is overdue for a good game. He will face McLain, the Tiger ace, who has pitched well in this series.

Both pitchers start well, allowing no hits in the first three innings. Joss finally gives up a single in the 4th to Gehringer, another in the fifth to Freehan, but there is no score. McLain ends the top of the sixth by fanning Speaker, his seventh K, and the Tribe is still hitless. With one out in the home sixth, Gehringer gets aboard with a scratch single. Cash then catches a Joss side-arm delivery and rifles it into the RC gap, a run-scoring triple, and the Tigers go up 1-0. Greenberg skies to center, but Speaker holds the runner, two out. Then it is Mr Tiger, Al Kaline, who lofts a fly down the line in left, and it carries into the seats, a two-run HR on a ball not hit that hard, but good enough for a 3-0 lead.

McLain mows down the Indians in the 7th, 1-2-3. Trammell opens the home 7th with a double, Freehan bunts Tram to third. But Kell, trying to squeeze the run in, pops to Coveleski, on in relief, and Trammell is doubled off third. Al Rosen draws a walk, McLain’s 4th, to start the 8th. But a groundout and McLain’s 9th strikeout follow. Then Shoeless Joe Jackson ruins McLain’s bid for a no-hitter, with a patented blue darter over second, and it’s 3-1. But Lajoie’s fly to right is hauled down by Kaline to end the threat.

The Tigers fail to score in their 8th off Coveleski, so McLain starts the 9th with the 3-1 lead. Tris Speaker leads off with Cleveland’s second hit, a double over first. Now the Indians miss Belle, but there is plenty of power left. But McLain makes Trosky his 10th strikeout victim, and gets Doby to ground to Gehringer. Kenny Lofton, who pinch-hit for Rocky Colavito earlier when the Indians needed runners, draws a walk, setting up the two-on, two-out duel between McLain and Al Rosen. It goes full count, then Rosen swings and gets good wood on the ball, but hits it into right-center, and when it comes down at the 375′ mark, Al Kaline is waiting for it. Tigers win, 3-1, McLain a 2-hitter, a tough loss for Joss and the Indians. Detroit will represent the AL in the tournament’s final series. Cobb celebrates by sharpening his spikes and punching a reporter. (Just kidding. APBA is realistic, but not that realistic!)



This is the twelfth in a series of reports on a simulated playoff of the sixteen “original franchise” teams. The results of the first rounds are in NOTES 459-464; the second round, in #465-468. See NOTES #459 for the background and “ground rules.”

One reader pointed out the irony, I guess, of the Final Four teams in this tournament. None of them have been known for their consistent or recent success. When I started rooting in the late 1950s, the Cubs and Phils were usually battling to stay out of the cellar, and finishing fifth or six in the 8-team NL was a mark of improvement. Yet here they are, in the NL finals.


Both of these teams cruised easily into this showdown series. The Phils dispensed with the all-time Braves and then the Pirates in five-game sets. The Cubs swept the Cardinals, then dropped just one game to the Dodgers. So the teams were a combined 16-3; the Cub starters got all their decisions, but the Phils’ starters earned just four of their eight wins.

Three-Finger Brown (3-0) would take on Grover Cleveland Alexander (1-1) in the opener. Old Pete won 28 as a rookie in 1911, en route to his 373; Three Finger won 21 that summer, but his best seasons were behind him. In the APBA simulation, they meet in their prime.

And they begin the series by tossing goose-eggs at each other, until the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Richard Lundy, the Negro League draftee SS, poked a double and Granny Hamner walked. Darren Daulton, batting ninth, then sliced a two-run triple to right-center to end the double shutout. Billy Hamilton was nicked with a pitch, and Big Ed Delahanty drew a walk to load the bases for Sam Thompson. And Sam comes through with another long triple, putting the Phils up 5-0.

Alexander gives up an infield hit to Stan Hack, a hit-and-run single bounced into right by Billy Herman, and a sac fly to Kiki Cuyler — and nothing more. Solo homers by Thompson (who also had a single, but fell a double shy of the cycle) and Mike Schmidt make the final 7-1, the Cubs get just four singles all day.


Clark Griffith starred for the Cubs in the 1890s, so we know he never faced off with Steve Carlton before. This is the Carlton of 1972, a 27-game winner on a team that won 59. Both pitchers were 2-0 in the first rounds of the tournament.

And both were on their game today. When DH Cy Williams homers for the Phils in the fifth, it is just their second hit, and the 1-0 lead stands up into the 8th inning. The Cubs have scratched out just four singles, looking a lot like yesterday. Then in the 8th, the visitors come to life. Cuyler singles and moves to second on Billy Williams hit-and-run ground out. Andre Dawson is called back for Gabby Hartnett, who promptly rockets a Carlton fastball into the seats, Cubs up 2-1. The homer came in the daylight, but the Cubs’ hopes were sure a’glomin’ at the time. Then Josh Gibson singles and Hack Wilson goes deep, showing off that 56-HR fire-hydrant power. That ends Carlton’s day, but the Cubs are not done. Ernie Banks doubles and Stan Hack scores him with a single. Frank Chance ends the scoring with a double.

Griff takes the 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th. He has pitched a gem, yielding just three singles and that HR, and when he retires the first two Phils in the ninth, it’s ten in a row and 13/14. But Schmidt walks and Lundy doubles him home, and Bruce Sutter comes in. Pinch-hitters Richie Ashburn and Popeye Harris get one, via a walk and a single, so it is now 6-3 with the tying run at bat, a third straight pinch-hitter, Larry Parrish, who can tie the score with one swing. But Sutter fans him, and the series is tied.


In his only tourney game, Jim Bunning tossed a two-hit shutout for the Phils; he’ll start today against Hippo Vaughn, 2-0 but just one quality start.

The Cubs pick up where they left off in Game Two. Cuyler hits a leadoff double, but is stranded. In the second, Hack Wilson singles and Ernie Banks clears the ivy in left, 2-0. In the third, Josh Gibson finds the bleachers with Billy Williams aboard on a hit, and it’s 4-0. Hack Wilson breaks hit bat on a fly to right, but it fins the stands, too; Ryne Sandberg was aboard on a double, so now it is 6-0 after six.

Hippo Vaughn has scattered four singles so far, but the Phils get to him in their 7th on doubles by Mike Schmidt and Cy Williams. Jon Matlack took over for the Phils and retires the Cubs in order again in the bottom of the inning. With two out in the eighth, Vaughn is running on empty. Chuck Klein singles and Dick Allen homers, 6-3. Schmidt doubles, and Lee Smith takes over for Hippo. Lundy greets Smith with a HR to left and it’s a one-run game, 6-5. Sutter gets the last out in the 8th.

Tug McGraw takes the hill for the visitors, trying to keep the score close. But Billy Williams nicks him for a single, and after Ryno fans, Josh Gibson connects, his second round-tripper today, making it 8-5 Cubs. But it ain’t over. Richie Ashburn comes off the bench and singles, and after Hamilton forces him, Delahanty singles. No one is holding Delahanty, and he steals second, eliminating the chance for a ground-out DP. Big Sam Thompson gets all of a split-finger pitch and rifles it toward right-center, but Ryne Sandberg leaps and snags it, and beats Delahanty to second, end the game on a spectacular DP. The Phils out-hit the Cubs 12-9, but the 8-5 final has the Cubs up 2-1 in games.


Old Pete Alexander will pitch on three days’ rest, and will be ready again if the series goes seven. The Cubs send out Fergie Jenkins, 1-1 in the tourney. Fergie argues for a spot in the lineup, too, he’s a terrific hitter, but finally yields to the DH.
The Phils score first on a hit and steal by Hamilton and Thompson liner past Sandberg into right. The Cubs tie it in the second on Josh Gibson’s triple, stuck in the ivy, and Hack Wilson’s sac fly.

The games remains knotted at 1-1 into the fifth. Catcher Spud Davis’ double is the Phils’ first extra-base hit of the day. Billy Hamilton bunts him over to third, and beats out the bunt for a hit. Slidin’ Billy then steals and Delahanty walks. Sam Thompson gets under one and skies it to right, but deep enough so that even the slow-footed Davis can tag and score, 2-1 Phils. Jenkins retires Chuck Klein on a comebacker, and is almost out of the jam, but Dick Allen’s roller to short is bobbled by Ernie Banks and a run comes in on the error. Then Mike Schmidt connects, three more unearned runs cross the plate, 6-1 Phils.

Jenkins would give up just two harmless singles the rest of the way, completing the game. But his teammates could only make it close. In the 7th Josh Gibson, aboard on a walk, was running when Banks raps a hit-and-run single into right, and when the Phils take too long getting the ball in, Gibson scores all the way from first. In the 8th, DH Sammy Sosa doubles and two outs and a walk later, Josh Gibson gets his second triple, to make it 6-4. Turk Farrell takes over for Alexander, gets the final four outs, and the series is even.


I remember reading somewhere, long ago, how crucial Game Five is, in a seven-game series. Whoever wins it, usually wins the series, and it’s easy to see why. If the Game 5 winner is already up 3-1, it’s all over. If the things is tied, they now just need to win one of two. The Phils send Steve Carlton, who threw a seven-inning shutout before losing Game Two, against Three Finger Brown, who fared poorly in the series opener.

Ernie Banks — at DH today, while Shawon Dunston’s better leather is at short — gives Brown a 1-0 lead with a solo HR in the second. The Phils get the run back on a walk to Daulton, Hamilton’s grounder and Delahanty’s RBI single. The Cubs come right back, though. Kiki Cuyler singles, and scores a minute later on Billy Herman’s hit-and-run double. Gibson’s single and a ground-out by Sandberg makes it 3-1.

In the 4th, the Cubs blow it open. Mark Grace’s single, Shawon Dunston’s double and a walk to Herman have the bases full with two out for Josh Gibson. Josh didn’t do much in Philly, but he seems to live Wrigley Field, and Steve Carlton loses this duel, Gibson’s grand slaw making it 7-1 Cubs. The Phil bullpen would give up a few more runs, but Three Finger Brown didn’t need any more, he coasted in 10-1, giving up just five hits — which is a low-hit game, when you play in this league.


So the Cubs need just one more win to clinch the NL title, and they send Game Two winner Griffith out to get it. The Phils counter with Robin Roberts, who has pitched well in two starts in the tournament, but was 0-1. Roberts starts well, retiring the first eight Cubs before walking Dunston. Then Kiki Cuyler lofts one into the bleachers for a 2-0 Cub lead.

Chuck Klein took Griffith deep in the second, but his hit landed inches short of a homer, and went for a harmless double. But in the fourth, after Delahanty singled and stole, and Thompson double him in, Klein connected again and this time there was no doubt about it, 3-2 Phils.

But the Cubs responded in the top of the fifth. Billy Williams singled, and moved to third on two ground-outs. Cuyler walked, then Billy Herman executed a perfect hit-and-run to tie the game. Josh Gibson’s single scored Cuyler to put the Cubs ahead, 4-3.

Griffith was back in his groove after the Klein HR, but in the Phils’ 7th, he gave up another run. Mike Schmidt singled, and with two outs, Richie Ashburn pinch hit. Richie walked and singled in his previous PH appearances, and he came through a third time — this time, with Schmidt running on a 3-2 pitch, he poked a hit to right, and when Sam Thompson threw to second, to hold Ashburn at first, Schmidt kept right on running and scored the tying run.

Jon Matlack had taken over for Roberts in the fifth, and held the Cubs into the 7th, when Frosty Bill Duggleby came on. With one out in the 8th, Ryne Sandberg connected off Duggleby, putting the Cubs ahead again, 5-4. But the Phils were not giving up. Hamilton walked, and when Delahanty drove a ball to the wall in center, making Cuyler leap into the ivy, Hamilton tagged up and moved to second. Thompson then singled and it was 5-5.

Into the ninth. Duggleby walked Mark Grace, and Frank Chance pinch ran. Then Shawon Dunston, batting ninth and in the game for defense, rifled a hit-and-run double down the line in left to put the Cubs up, one more time, 6-5. Enter Turk Farrell. Trying to bunt the insurance run over to third, Cuyler draws a walk. Billy Herman is bunting, too, and lays down a perfect one, beating it out to load the bases with none out. Farrell only has to get past Josh Gibson and Hack Wilson. And he does, sort of. Gibson hits a deep fly to right, deep enough to score Dunston, one out. Then Wilson hacks into a 6-4-3 DP, so the Phils are down 7-5 going to their ninth.

Mike Schmidt singles off Bruce Sutter to start things off, so the tying run is at the plate already. But Sutter fans Lundy, and pinch-hitter Cy Williams flies to right. So it is now up to John Kruk, who has been on the bench for six games. I imagined he hobbled out, a la Kirk Gibson, stiff and looking for one pitch. But Sutter didn’t serve it up. Kruk bounces it up the middle, Dunston cuts it off and fires to Frank Chance at first, and the Cubs wrap up the series. And I guess it is kind of fitting, that they will face the Detroit Tigers, the team they beat in a World Series, their last WS win, only an even 100 years ago.

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